In the midst of freezing rain, unpredictable snow fronts, and the clear but frigid air, Oregonians from across the State gathered at the historic Elsinore Theatre in Salem last evening on February 27th in celebration and launch of the first ever Oregon Legislative Arts and Culture Caucus.
Legislators echoing many voices across the state, from organizations to creatives and artists, recognize the vital role arts and culture play in the livability and prosperity of Oregon communities – and the importance of advocacy for support and funding for them.
Coordinated by Representative Rob Nosse (D-Portland) the Caucus’ inaugural membership included 9 senators and representatives, but by last night, membership had increased to thirteen. The caucus will serve as a resource to the Oregon Legislature on key issues affecting the arts and culture sector. “Members will work closely with stakeholders including the Oregon Arts Commission, the Oregon Cultural Trust (and its statewide partners), and the Cultural Advocacy Coalition of Oregon (CACO) to stay informed on the latest research and issues. It will also set an agenda on priorities for arts and culture legislation, including a sustainable and robust funding mechanism for arts and cultural initiatives.” (From CACO’s invitation to the launch event.)
Jason Graham, the creative laureate of Bend known as MOsley WOtta, played emcee of the evening. Through his strategic introduction he jived, hyped, and kept the audience of community members, arts organizations, artists, musicians, and advocates informed and masterfully revealed the irony of being asked to write a piece for the evening, with zero budget. The conundrum that many artists face in light of opportunities still managed to appear with the real struggle for compensation of artists.
With over 300 people in attendance, the free event showcased local ice-cream, Mediterranean inspired nosh, jello-shots and performers, from the master Charro rope artist Antonio Huerta of Springfield, to members of the Salem Trumpet Ensemble. Lead by Jaimie Hall, the ensemble was accepted to compete at the 2023 National Trumpet Competition, which will be held later this month from March 25-27th at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Members of the ensemble include, Kaden Blake, Nicholas Peterson-Hunt, and Nick Telford from West Salem High School (Director Todd Zimbleman); Keegan Arnsmeier from McNary High School (Director Elizabeth Hering); and Ian King from Sprague High School (Director Jennifer Vowels).
The Arts & Culture Caucus are currently supporting:
- $50 million in recovery funding for arts and culture organizations and grants to be administered by counties and tribal governments through House Bill 2459.
- $200 million in lottery funds invested to generate about $10 million in awards that would go to some of the 1,600 arts and culture nonprofits in Oregon through House Bill 2498.
- $10 million increase in funding for the Oregon Arts Commission.
The list below reflects some of the people who helped make this event possible, including those instrumental in the formation of the Arts & Culture Caucus.
Subashini Ganesan-Forbes, Oregon Arts Commissioner
Jason McNeal Graham/MOsley WOtta, Emcee
David Harrelson, Oregon Arts Commissioner
Salem-Keizer School District Trumpet Quintet/Jaimie Hall, Director
Jenny Green, Chair, Oregon Arts Commission
Harlen Springer, Vice Chair, Oregon Arts Commission
Niki Price, Chair, Oregon Cultural Trust
J.S. May, President, Cultural Advocacy Coalition of Oregon
Antonio Huerta, Charro/Mexican Horseman
Rep. Rob Nosse, Arts & Culture Caucus Coordinator
Members of the Arts & Culture Caucus
RACC’s Board Member, Thomas Lauderdale, musician
Hunter Noack, musician
The now 13 Caucus Members include:
Rep. Rob Nosse, Portland
Sen. Dick Anderson, Lincoln City
Rep. Janelle Bynum, Clackamas
Rep. Maxine Dexter, Portland
Rep David Gomberg, Otis
Rep Dacia Grayber (New), Tigard
Sen. Bill Hansell, Athena
Rep Annessa Hartman (New), Gladstone
Rep. John Lively, Springfield
Rep. Pam Marsh, Ashland
Sen. Deb Patterson, Salem
Rep. Lisa Reynolds (New), NE Washington County
Rep. Ricki Ruiz (New), Gresham
Please reach out to Mario Mesquita , Manager of Advocacy and Engagement at RACC for more information.
*Photography by Mario Mesquita